Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions [NOOK Book]


It's true: a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Yet that's what we do when we spend our weekend - and neurons - reliving a workplace squabble, spend a family visit chewing over childhood issues, or spend hours beating ourselves up when someone brings one of our own long-held (but never worked on) ideas to fruition. This kind of obsessing gets us, like a hamster on a wheel, nowhere. But as noted creativity expert Eric Maisel asserts, obsessing productively leads to fulfillment rather than frustration. A productive...

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Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions

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It's true: a mind is a terrible thing to waste. Yet that's what we do when we spend our weekend - and neurons - reliving a workplace squabble, spend a family visit chewing over childhood issues, or spend hours beating ourselves up when someone brings one of our own long-held (but never worked on) ideas to fruition. This kind of obsessing gets us, like a hamster on a wheel, nowhere. But as noted creativity expert Eric Maisel asserts, obsessing productively leads to fulfillment rather than frustration. A productive obsession, whether an idea for a novel, a business, or a vaccine, is chosen deliberately and pursued with determination. In this provocative, practical guide, Maisel coaches you to use the tendency to obsess to your creative advantage, fulfilling both your promise and your promises to yourself.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Eric Maisel (Coaching the Artist Within), a creativity coach and columnist, and wife Ann Maisel (What Would Your Character Do?) have collaborated on a self-help book with an intriguing twist: that the right kind of "productive" obsession is not only desirable but an essential feature of creativity. To lend credibility to their claim the Maisels reference research into consciousness that suggests the cerebral cortex contains dynamic cooperatives of neurons which may lay the foundation for "a productive obsession that is a large neuronal gestalt of long duration - a big idea that lasts a long time." In answer to the criticism that any obsession might be dangerous, the Maisels acknowledge that this possibility hasn't been thoroughly investigated but believe the gains outweigh any potential negatives. The process of nurturing productive obsessions, the authors believe, is at the heart of how we value life and find purpose. It goes beyond simple stimulation, neat ideas, or interesting hobbies. By "investing meaning," in our ideas, we can move from mere interest to "the meaningfulness of authentic engagement." All too often people overlook the basics of a productive life, distracted by multitasking, marketing, and information overload. With this provocative departure from the usual lifestyle manual, the Maisels are out to break us of those tendencies.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781577319627
  • Publisher: New World Library
  • Publication date: 4/15/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 938,759
  • File size: 377 KB

Meet the Author

Eric Maisel, PhD, is a psychotherapist and the author of many books, including Coaching the Artist Within and Fearless Creating. He is a columnist for Art Calendar magazine, a creativity coach, and a trainer of coaches, and he leads workshops nationwide and online. Ann Maisel is a former teacher and school administrator who is now engaged in researching the productive obsessions of historical and contemporary figures. They live in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 The Logic of Brainstorms 1

2 Putting Your Brain into Gear 7

3 Large Neuronal Gestalts of Long Duration 15

4 Choosing Your Productive Obsession 21

5 Making the Ordinary Extraordinary 27

6 Productive = Work 33

7 Are You Conflicted? 40

8 One Month of Productive Obsessing 47

9 Creativity and Productive Obsessions 54

10 Meaning and Productive Obsessions 60

11 Your Productive Obsession Checklist 67

12 Early Daze 74

13 Risk 79

14 Commitment 84

15 One-Week Reports 91

16 Mere Interest or Passionate Interest? 97

17 Two-Week Reports 103

18 The Turmoil - and Calm - of Process 111

19 Three-Week Reports 117

20 Unproductively Obsessing 123

21 One-Month Reports 129

22 Obsessing in the Middle of Things 135

23 Journeys and Not Destinations 140

24 Productive Obsessions and Critical Thinking 146

25 The Persistence of Productive Obsessions 153

26 Turning Your Productive Obsession Off 160

27 Turning Your Productive Obsession Back On 166

28 The Glory of Brainstorms 171

Appendix: Your Productive Obsession Group 177

Notes 187

Index 193

About the Authors 200

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2014


    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 12, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Scientific Look At Creativity That Leaves The Reader Asking, "How?"

    In Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions, Eric and Ann Maisel suggest that obsessing over an idea can be healthy, if the idea is related to creativity. Based in psychology, Brainstorm suggests that we waste too much time and energy on unproductive thoughts, and if we force those thoughts out of our brains while at the same time focusing on creative ideas, the possibilities are endless.

    Brainstorm is highly theoretical in that it very frequently discusses human potential in ideas and concepts that seem very possible. However, it offers little to no practical application of the concepts. The book's ideas are primarily demonstrated by quotes from individuals who have participated in the Maisels' productive obsession groups, but very frequently is there any explanation as to how any of these individuals achieved their results.

    The most practical help within the book are the chapters on determining what is productive versus non-productive and how to choose a productive obsession that is worthy of your heart's strongest desires. Each chapter concludes with a real-life example of a creative individual, famous or not, who succeeded in conquering the boundaries and bringing new ideas to fruition.

    Another important chapter in the book explains to the reader that creativity is not necessarily about the end product by rather about appreciating the journey along the way. Focusing too heavily on the end product can impede the natural twists and turns that creativity takes along the way. Perhaps the end product will be quite different from what the individual set out to initially create. And perhaps it will be much more extraordinary.

    Without the practical application explaining just how to get to these stages of creative awakening, the book leaves the reader saying something along the lines of, "That's great, and I believe what the authors are saying. But how do I get there?"

    The book is also based in science rather than spirituality. So those creative types who believe creativity is strongly linked to a higher power or creative flow of energy in the universe may find this book dry and unemotional. For most artists and creative types, the emotion that comes with creativity is one of the highlights of the journey. Thinking of creativity as strictly scientific without any divine intervention impedes the artist and leaves him asking, "Then what's the point?"

    Brainstorm is worth reading and adding to a library of books on creative inspiration. However, it is much less inspiring than other books, like The Artist's Way, for example. For practical examples and real-life how-to exercises, The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron would be much more worthwhile investment, as it truly helps someone get out of a creative slump, deal with the issues related to blocked creativity, and move forward into a creative existence.

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  • Posted June 11, 2010

    Brainstorm can help you find fulfillment

    Brainstorm: Harnessing the Power of Productive Obsessions by Eric and Ann Maisel.

    Right away, the authors make a big promise. "If you take my suggestions and accept my challenges, you'll embark on a journey more amazing than any you could contrive by land, sea or air." Does the book deliver? I say yes. The book shows how using the power of "productive obsession" can overcome internal resistance and enable you to use the power of your brain to live more fully and do more.

    Productive obsessions stir up the mind. You choose your PO to match your desires, dreams, goals and ambitions; one that taps into your natural abilities, interests and talents. And dream big, stretch your horizons and go all out by allowing your brain to explore the ideas and projects that have habitually been pushed aside. This will lead you to find fulfillment and purpose and thus experience a greater sense of well-being.

    Chapters are short. The book is a quick read and organized to show how the PO process works while including real-life examples using testimonials from groups of participants who allowed their brains to following a nagging, recurring need. Overall, their end results trend toward fulfillment in the form of tangible results and increased happiness. The exercise of productive obsessing opened a new world of possibilities enabling participants to express their authentic selves.

    If you can get past the initial chapters which delve into the study of psychology and give some context for the scientific basis of the book, then you'll be able to finish the book. If it weren't for this and the odd chapter criticizing public school education, I'd give the book five stars. I found them distracting and of little value to the overall theme and tone.

    Bottom line: This book is about being authentic which leads to happiness. If you have a passion for cultivating daisies, cooking with red wine, publishing poetry, building a business, writing a thesis, then go ahead, allow your brain to get busy and get happy and go for big and bold expressions of your obsession!

    I recommend the book to anyone who is curious about making more of their life. The authors have created a simple roadmap to guide the reader through this thought- and action-changing plan. Also consult this article in the June 2010 issue of Psychology Today for more insight.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2010

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